Each year, the BCS discussion always includes a comparison of schedules that contenders played in. There have been years when a weak schedule can cost a team a trip to the National Championship, or they can mask the true identity of team that makes it to a BCS game.
Looking at the schedules of teams before the season starts can give us an idea of which teams have the cojones to play teams that will make them better, or teams that shy away from non-conference competition in hopes of making a run at a BCS berth.
Some conferences are known for playing tougher schedules than others. For example, teams from the ACC play perhaps the toughest non-conference games, while the Big 10 seems to avoid competition from tough non-league games. Of course in each conference it depends on the schools because there are exceptions.
Here is a look at 10 teams that are trying to fool us with their schedules:
Boston College: Northeastern, Kent State, Central Michigan, @Notre Dame
Michigan: Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Delaware State
Penn State: Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Eastern Illinois
Wisconsin: Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Wofford, Hawaii
Michigan State: Montana State, Central Michigan, @Notre Dame, Western Michigan
Kansas: Northern Colorado, UTEP, Duke, @Southern Mississippi
Texas: UL Monroe, @Wyoming, Central Florida, UTEP
Texas Tech: North Dakota, Rice, @Houston, New Mexico
Florida: Charleston, Troy, Florida International, Florida State
LSU: @Washington, UL Lafayatte, Tulane, Louisana Tech
As you can see, there are some teams on here that are legitimate National Title contenders. While you see teams such as Boston College and Michigan State playing against other contenders like Notre Dame, playing the Irish and three pushovers doesn't impress anyone right now.
A team like Florida is on the list because they should play more highly competitive teams like Florida State, especially when they are reigning national champs.
Last year playing Miami was good enough for Florida, but no mid-level BCS conference teams and their schedule is very unimpressive, even if the Seminoles have a breakout year.
On the other hand here are 10 teams that aren't afraid to play against a little competition:
Oklahoma: BYU, @Miami, Idaho State, Tulsa
Virginia Tech: Nebraska, @East Carolina, vs. Alabama, Marshall
Oregon: Boise State, @Utah, Purdue
Florida State: Florida, @BYU, South Florida, Jacksonville State
Georgia Tech: Georgia, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Jacksonville State
Miami: Oklahoma, @South Florida, Central Florida, Florida A&M
West Virginia: East Carolina, Colorado, @Auburn, Liberty, Marshall
UCLA: @Tennessee, Kansas State, @San Diego
California: Maryland, at. Minnesota, Eastern Washington
Georgia: @Oklahoma State, Arizona State, at. Georgia Tech, Tennessee Tech
In this list, we also have some great teams with hopes of reaching the BCS. These teams will have a leg up on any team from the previous section if they have the same record at the end of the year. By challenging themselves, these teams will be better at the end of the season and because of their strength of schedule, they will have an advantage if selected for a bowl game.
Overall, we see teams from every conference each year try and get a leg up on going undefeated or a leg up on actually improving themselves. In my opinion, each team from the SEC, Big 12, Big 10, and ACC, who each have four out of conference games, should have at least two decently challenging games.
I will give more respect to any team that dares to schedule three out of conference games with good competition because they are confident in their teams and aren't afraid of a challenge. In the Pac-10, teams play only three non conference games; so playing one real good game or two middle-of-the-road ones are acceptable.
In the Big East, where they play five non conference games, teams should always play two, and having a third would be good too because the conference is a bit weaker.
Overall it's really disappointing to see a team like Texas, Penn State, or LSU play such a weak schedule when they have hopes of reaching a BCS game. As far as teams like Georgia, Oklahoma, or Virginia Tech, who challenge themselves, I tip my hat to you.